The Genesis Clubhouse
The word “genesis” can vary slightly in meaning and usage; however, its most commonly used to denote a specific thing’s origin or beginning. So for me, on the cusp of my 30th birthday, acknowledging and dealing with what, looking back, felt like such a heavy burden of unintended self-destruction and hopeful “repair”…to be invited to a place specifically called “Genesis House” sounded at once, both intriguing and frightening. Having little information pertaining to what exactly this place was or it’s exact function, not knowing what being a member of a “clubhouse” actually meant and not to mention the foreboding social implications of joining such a place, I found myself agonizing for weeks just to take my first steps into “Genesis House” for a tour. It seemed the more I blindly wondered at the potential benefits of the clubhouse, the more I questioned myself and my will to try again.
The longer I waited, and more aptly, avoided stepping foot into the modest, gray, two-storied building in tiny Fowlerville, MI, the more deluded and anxious my thoughts became. But…I knew that I needed more than just an occasional visit to a therapist. I knew that I needed more than the benefits medication could provide. And what’s more, I knew that I had disappeared into myself for months and with each passing day the more removed from being what I used to call “on track” I became. When I could finally no longer justify my hiding, with support from a peer, I conjured up enough gumption to step out and just…try. Finally pulling up to that modest, gray, two-storied building in tiny Fowlerville, I remembered that the origins, or genesis, of many great things start from modest and humble beginnings. And that’s exactly how I took my first steps into “Genesis House”.
Immediately upon entering the clubhouse for the first time, I was greeted with genuine smiles from people completely unfamiliar to me. People welcomed me into their space with such well-meaning honesty and a special kind of pride. It didn’t take long for me to realize that the anxieties and discouraging thoughts that I had built up inside for weeks about visiting “Genesis House” were almost certainly without reason. My stress level reduced and reduced until I felt almost part of the world again. Engaging in “easy-open” but surprisingly candid meet-and-greet conversations with staff and members alike, I started to remember that I was a part of society. That I was not in fact alone and did not have to be alone.
Members and staff sat with me and chatted. Some explained the basic daily operations of the clubhouse and the various tasks that members engaged themselves in. I saw how the members take an active role in running the clubhouse, everything from accounting/bookkeeping to planning menus and cooking lunch. The staff seemed to be completely on top of everything, while, at the same time they blended themselves in with the members. It became apparent quickly that there was no typical “boss” here. There was no single person barking orders or keeping everyone productive. This was different. All of the members had a hand and a say in the daily operations. Then a thought hit me, “Genesis House is a co-op!” Everyone knows what needs to be done to keep their place functioning at a high level, so they all assume the responsibility and it pays off in many, many ways.
As I continued to attend “Genesis House” in the following week I began to shed many of the fears and anxieties that I had built up within myself in my isolation at home. I began to feel excited to show up for the morning meetings no matter how much I abhor and poorly adhere to my alarm clock’s dreadful morning screams. I became delighted, in my own shy way, to converse at great length with peers and staff throughout the day. Simply helping to prepare and serve a decent lunch on a daily basis became a great source of pride that lingered even hours after I had returned home. By the end of each day, I left the clubhouse feeling that I had done some work, that it was valued and that I could not wait to contribute more when I could.
The fact that the clubhouse offers many varying forms of entertainment and social activities such as bowling, gym memberships and going to the movies is just an added perk on top of what already seems to be an abundance of fun and productive diversions. Many of my fellow members had already seemed to become my friends, not just acquaintances. I feel as though we, as a clubhouse, as a business and as a social club are comprised of deeply caring, funny and intriguing individuals devoted to the causes of discovering and developing individual strengths and comradery while promoting overall health and healing.
Definitely Not The End
Being a member of “Genesis House” for just a short time has already offered me an in-dispensable outlet to reclaim and honor the best in myself. I remember now that I am of value and that I can contribute in many ways. I have no doubt that as I become more and more involved within the clubhouse that my confidence will continue to grow and that I can continue on a path that will allow me to help and encourage others on their paths as time goes on. From what appears to be a modest, gray, two-storied building in tiny Fowlerville, MI can shine a beacon of hope, compassion, and healing. The building and the people inside it can represent a clean slate, a second chance, a fresh start, a new beginning, a genesis. To me, it’s not a building anymore. To me, it’s an exciting and healing journey on which I have taken my first steps
Genesis House is an accredited mental health clubhouse through Clubhouse International. To learn more about clubhouses like Genesis House, click here to visit the Clubhouse International website.